DEAN AND MARC MATHIS
Dean : born Louis Aldine Mathis, 17 March 1937, Hahira, Georgia
Born in far south central Georgia, the Mathis brothers have had a long and varied career in the music industry and have recorded under a wide variety of names. Both were multi-instrumentalists as well as singers. By age five, Dean Mathis was already playing gospel music in the Church of God where his dad was a preacher. Both Dean and Marc were taught to play guitar by their mother. By age 12 Dean was playing bluegrass music on the mandolin. However, it was his ability as a fiddle player which landed him a road tour with a Grand Ole Opry western swing group, Paul Howard and the Arkansas Cotton Pickers, who had recorded for King and Columbia. This group toured with Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys and also played on the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport. That's where Dean moved to in 1954 (from Bremen in northwest Georgia) and Marc followed him there in 1957. In that year, both brothers hooked up with Dale Hawkins and played in his band for over three years. They were part of the entourage which recorded "Little "Pig", "Cross Ties" (both co-written by Dean Mathis) and "La-Do-Dada". On (most of) Dale's Checker sessions, both Dean and Marc sometimes played guitar, sometimes (Fender) bass and at other times piano. Dean also sang occasional harmony backup vocals. Other titles that he co-wrote with Dale include "I Want To Love You" (which sounds very much like the Coasters hit "Searchin'") and "Some Day, One Day". Dean is represented in the BMI database as "Al Mathis", "Louis A. Mathis", "Louis Al Mathis" and (for "Some Day, One Day") erroneously as Johnny Mathis. He was not a prolific songwriter, though, with less than 20 titles to his credit. Marc (often misspelled as Mark) Mathis has 37 entries in the BMI database, but none of the titles means anything to me.
Benefiting from their ties to Dale Hawkins and Stan Lewis, the brothers were also allowed to record on their own for the Chess labels. With their high voices, they tried to emulate the Everly Brothers sound. Their first record came out in October 1958 on Argo. Co-written by Dale Hawkins and Dean Mathis, "Lazy Susan" was recorded in NYC with Roy Buchanan on lead guitar and credited to "The Brothers". Around the same time they moonlighted as the Marcus Brothers for Lee Rupe's Ebb label in Los Angeles, with "Sugar Booger". Their Checker single "Lucky Sixteen", recorded on February 2, 1959, is very hard to find. Even Tapio doesn't have a copy, though it has been reissued on the CD mentioned at the bottom. Also recorded at that session was "Sioux City Sue", another Argo single.
However, their only hit was not recorded for the Chess-Checker-Argo group of labels, but for the Bullseye label in New York City. It was a cover of the Travis and Bob hit "Tell Him No" (1959). The original was a Top 10 hit (# 8), while the version by the Mathises peaked at # 42. Label credit went to "Dean and Marc" this time. The second Bullseye single, "The Beginning Of Love" (written by Harvey Fuqua of the Moonglows) was issued so quickly after the first one that you couldn't even call this a follow-up, as "Tell Him No" was still climbing the charts.
Check-Mate was a short-lived subsidiary of Chess (1961-62), ran by Billy Davis and located in Detroit. This label also released a Dean and Marc single, the sax rocker "Boogie Woogie Twist" (parts 1 & 2). Another very rare item. By 1962, the Dean and Marc Combo were performing on The Strip in Bossier City, across the Red River from Shreveport. Here, at the Diamond Head Club, they were joined on stage by Larry Henley. After various twists and turns the trio established links with Nashville publisher Wesley Rose, who ran the Hickory label. The relationship led to Dean and Marc records on May and Hickory. Henley was also signed as a solo artist by Hickory.
In 1964 the three men regrouped as the Newbeats. Featuring Henley's distinctive falsetto, the group's first single, "Bread And Butter" (Hickory 1269) went all the way to # 2 on the Billboard charts in September 1964, only being blocked from the top spot by Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman". Six other Top 100 hits by the Newbeats would follow, but after "Run Baby Run" (# 12, autumn 1965), they were over the hill. The group remained with Hickory until 1972. Brief stints at Buddah and Playboy followed before the Newbeats dissolved in 1974. After releasing a handful of unsuccessful solo recordings, Henley turned his energies to songwriting, most famously authoring the Bettle Middler # 1 "Wind Beneath My Wings" (1989).
In the mid-1970s Dean Mathis and Stan Shulman pioneered the concept of re-recording hits for K-Tel and Gusto. Dean (nickname Pee Wee) lives in Minden, Louisiana, these days and, at age 70, considers himself retired from the music business. Marc Mathis lives in Nashville and owned "Variety Plus", a Nashville karaoke business.
The Brothers, Lazy Susan / Deep Sleep (Argo 5318) 10/58
(With thanks to Tapio Väisänen.)
More info on the Newbeats:
Acknowledgements: - Bill Millar, Liner notes for "That'll Flat Git It, Vol. 10 : Rockabilly From the Vaults of Chess Records" (Bear Family BCD 16123, 2000) and for the Dale Hawkins CD "Dale Rocks" (Bear Family BCD 16826, 2007). - Tapio's Dale Hawkins sessionography at
LP : Dean and Marc, Tell Him No (Demand DMSLP 2035)
CD : Dean and Marc, Kissing Games (Golden Sandy GSR 901123).
Both albums include "Am I To Be The One" by the Brown Brothers (Aladdin 3445). There is another Brown Brothers single on Aladdin (3437), but Tapio does not think that these are the Mathis brothers. Also included is "No More" by the Two Chaps (Atlantic 1195), one of which was Jay Black, later of Jay and the Americans. There is probably some Mathis involvement on that record.
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